A Satyre on Charles II
This poem is one of the most difficult to establish a definitive version for. Here, I present the poem as Vieth published it in his 1968 edition of the Earl's poetry, along with Vieth's notes. According to a letter dated 20 January 1673/4, whose testimony is corroborated by the headings in several early texts of the following poem, "my Lord Rochester fled from Court some time since for delivering (by mistake) into the King's hands a terrible lampoon of ihs own making against the King, instead of another the King asked him for." ... The opening lines of the poem, contrasting the peaceful interests of Charles II with the belligerent ambitions of Louis XIV, apparently refer to the approaching end of the Third Dutch War. By the Treaty of Westminster, signed on 9 February 1673/4, Charles withdrew from this confluct which the English and French had waged jointly against the Dutch since Early 1672, leaving Louis to pursue his military conquests on the continent for another four years. I' th' isle of Britain, long since famous grown
For breeding the best cunts in Christendom,
There reigns, and oh! long may he reign and thrive,
The easiest King and best-bred man alive.
Him no ambition moves to get renown
Like the French fool, that wanders up and down
Starving his people, hazarding his crown.
Peace is his aim, his gentleness is such,
And love he loves, for he loves fucking much.
---Nor are his high desires above his strength:
His scepter and his prick are of a length;
And she may sway the one who plays with th' other,
And make him little wiser than his brother.
Poor prince! thy prick, like thy buffoons at Court,
Will govern thee because it makes thee sport.
'Tis sure the sauciest prick that e'er did swive,
The proudest, peremptoriest prick alive.
Though safety, law, religion, life lay on 't,
'Twould break through all to make its way to cunt.
Restless he rolls about from whore to whore,
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